Why are you here? Geoff Olliff

Why are you here? Geoff Olliff

Acts 9: 36 – 43 John 10: 22 – 30

Sun 17 Apr


Well in a sense I am filling in for Glynn, so I have to be here. As many of you will know, I am on Parish Council, and while we supported Glynn’s extended absence for study leave, we felt that we would be poorly served by retaining a part time interim Minister for the duration of his leave. Instead of that, I suggested to Parish Council that we, as a Parish Council could take responsibility for the services. After all, there are only 16 of them, and while they might be a little different to the usual Sunday fare, we could certainly create something deep, engaging and valuable, despite their difference. I felt that it was Parish Council’s job to lead in this way, and because it was my suggestion, I thought I better take the first one. So here I am, that’s why I am here. 


I am here because “being here” is by and large, what Sue and I do on a Sunday morning. Since we joined the congregation in 1996 we come here most Sundays. It’s a habit, a pattern. We don’t think about it consciously, we just get up (after I have made her a cup of tea in bed of course!) and make sure we are out of the house by 9:10. A little earlier if we are on duty. This is so in-grained that I cannot really imagine not coming. Staying home without a good excuse, just feels wrong. Of course now that Cam and Liz have left home, and we have the place in Omaha, being in Auckland on the weekend is happening less and less…never the less, that’s why I am here.


Well, I am here because this is my place, this is where I belong. Of course I don’t just mean “my” place. This is where my family – Sue, Cam, Liz, our friends, our Whanau, its where we belong. Here we are among friends. You are our tribe! This is where we celebrate the milestones on the journey of our lives. Its where Cam and Liz went to Sunday school and youth group. Its where Liz was confirmed. Its where we had Sue’s Grandma’s funeral, and more than likely where will celebrate the life and work of other members of our family (in good time and proper order of course!). 

St Luke’s is where we would like our children to marry, and maybe one day see our grandchildren christened. Eventually, and in about a hundred years, this place is where we would like our friends and family together to celebrate our lives, to say good-bye to us. This is where we belong. Its our home, our shelter, our strength.

St Luke’s is where we give of our time and resources following hundreds (or thousands) of others who have all belonged to this community since St Luke’s was founded.

So this is my place. This is where I belong. That’s why I am here.

To Find God

Because one day back in August 1976 I said ‘yes’ to something. I wasn’t sure what it was, or what I was doing, but it was real, it was big and it was outside me. Its something I now call God, and since that day I have been wrestling, questioning and challenging that something. Of course it’s a two-way street and that something has been wrestling, questioning and challenging me in return! Being part of this community gives me the chance to continue the exploration of ‘yes’ as life unfolds year by year.

To me, St Luke’s is a ‘thin’ place. It’s a place where we come close to that numinous other. In this special, set-aside place we sing, learn, pray, laugh and love within the fellowship of others who have their own ‘yes’ to explore. In this special place we can listen (with others) to wisdom, we can listen to love, we can listen to God.

I come to this place because it is a place made special by the love and worship of its congregation across the generations. It is a place made special, made Holy by the presence of God. By coming here, I too find the presence of God. That’s why I am here.

To Change the world

I am here because I want to change the world. Because I have to change the world. In fact, I believe that is why we are all here – to change the world. I may not be solving problems on an international stage but I can absolutely change the world I wake up to each morning and say ‘goodnight’ to when I shut my eyes each evening. That is the world that matters to me, that is the only world I can change, and that is the world I must change if I am to be true to myself. 

Ultimately I am here at St Luke’s to find the wisdom strength and discernment to truly understand values like love, like hospitality, like inclusiveness. Here within the community I can understand these values, I can work them out, and at my best, I can live them out. Values that come in through our heart and out through our lives.

Here at St Luke’s I can joyfully add my threads, my colours to the rich tapestry of life and at my best, I can make a difference. At St Luke’s I find my higher self. Through St Luke’s, I can change the world. That’s why I am here, nothing less than to change the world.